Thursday, January 31, 2013

Winflo Osteria Opens in Clarksville, Menu Highlights Traditional Italian Staples - Austin, Texas



The newest addition to Austin’s Clarksville neighborhood, Winflo Osteria is an Italian restaurant and pizzeria where folks can enjoy handmade Neapolitan-style pizzas, professionals can mingle during happy hour and friends can gather on the deck for dinner, reveling under the restaurant’s gigantic oak tree covered in dazzling Christmas lights. Located at 1315 W. Sixth St., Winflo Osteria is a family-owned and operated restaurant that highlights simple, traditional Italian staples, savory specialties and Neapolitan-style pizzas, using locally sourced seasonal ingredients for featured daily specials. Located in a historic Clarksville home that has been tastefully updated yet retains its classic style, Winflo pays homage to its Austin roots and the true meaning of an Italian osteria.    

Truly a family affair, Winflo Osteria is owned and run by a newcomer on the restaurant scene, Michael Ryan Dickson; his sister, Megan Dickson-Pennington; and her husband, Chef John Pennington, both formerly of award-winning pizzeria Southside Flying Pizza in Austin; and longtime friend Chris Horne of Stratford Property Group.

The menu’s fare, created by the Penningtons, is modest but concise, taking full advantage of the restaurant’s 92-inch Forno Bravo wood-fired brick oven. The menu features eight Neapolitan-style pizza varieties made with hand-stretched dough, such as Margherita ($13), Salsiccia e Peperoni ($15) and Quattro Stagioni ($15); five pasta dishes, including Ricotta Gnocchi all’Amatriciana ($15) and Fettuccine al Pesto ($14); five traditional Italian entrées, such as Porchetta ($17) and Polpettone ($16) prepared with a modern twist; three salad selections and two soup varieties; as well as rotating special appetizers, entrées and pizzas, handmade pastas and ravioli, and classic desserts.

Many of the Winflo dishes are cooked in the brick oven, which can reach an astonishing 900 degrees and cook a thin, crispy-crust pizza in less than two minutes, and as many as 90 in an hour. The natural oak fire adds a signature flavor and consistency to each dish. In fact, Winflo Osteria has the goal of becoming the first Neapolitan-certified restaurant in Austin, a distinction given by Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana, which insists on a variety of criteria, including specifically using a wood-burning oven; handmade mozzarella; “00” flour; San Marzano tomatoes; and hand-kneaded pizza dough, all culminating in a preparation specific to the Neapolitan tradition.

Even the restaurant’s full bar gives a nod to tradition, with offerings such as classic Italian cocktails including the Italian Mojito ($9), Sicilian Sour ($9), and the Godfather ($12) made with Macallan 12 year Single Malt Scotch and Disaronno, as well as DOC-, DOCG- and IGT-classified Italian wines.

Named for a neighboring Clarksville street and designed by architect Jamie Chioco of Chioco Design, Winflo Osteria offers the fine-dining experience of an Italian trattoria in a more casual, comfortable environment. Housed in a 3,700-square-foot two-story craftsman bungalow built in 1922, Winflo features a variety of dining and gathering spaces, including an extensive outdoor wooden deck, which seats 40 and is shaded by a 300-year-old live oak tree, bedecked in lights, that adds to the space’s charm. The cozy second-floor dining room, which seats 50, boasts a padded banquette that wraps around two interior walls and a massive copper bar, from which diners can peer into the kitchen as their meals are prepared. A hallway floor-to-ceiling mural provides an enchanting interpretation of the sky outlined through tree branches. Many fixtures throughout the space are custom made from copper plumbing pipes, which provide a contemporary feel while honoring historical style.

The proprietors took pains to maintain as much of the historical house as possible during renovations. The original fireplace was preserved and provides a cozy space for gathering during happy hour. The original interior wood walls have been exposed, and the existing floors were beautifully refinished. Original bookcases and cabinetry remain, as do the original doors and hardware. The reclaimed wood flooring that was removed from the kitchen will be reused to build the performance stage downstairs in Winflo’s Listening Room, an intimate space that, in the future, will be utilized for private and special events, as well as once-a-week acoustical performances from local and traveling musicians. Downstairs also houses the Winflo catering kitchen, which will augment Winflo’s massive mobile catering trailer outfitted with a wood-burning pizza oven.    

Winflo Osteria is located at 1315 W. Sixth St., in the historic Clarksville neighborhood of Austin. Winflo opens at 4 p.m., for nightly dinner service and happy hour, though the restaurant plans to eventually open for lunch service and Sunday brunch. Onsite parking is available, and patrons may use the parking lot across the street form the restaurant after 5 p.m. Valet service will also be available in the near future. For more information about Winflo Osteria, call (512) 582-1027, or visit www.WinfloOsteria.com.
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